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Discussion Starter #1
Ok, since I have now officially begun work on it (stripping the popcorn texture off the ceiling is my inaugural task), I suppose it’s time to start the obligatory “please help me figure everything out” build thread. I’ve been doing planning for a couple months and think I’ve got most of the stuff worked out, but still have a few sticking points I’m not 100% on. First up, the room. I’ll call it the nearly perfect room:

The room:
  • 24ft x 14ft, 8ft ceiling. No wall or ceiling beams to deal with.
The not so perfect part comes in that it’s a barn shaped bonus room with only a 4ft knee wall before the sloped ceiling goes to the 6ft 3in wide flat section. In the end, still not bad but it limits the width of furniture and screen. It’s a second floor room, but the attic space above is too small to crawl in, and will be very tough to fish anything through, so outside of running a power outlet and a conduit for the projector cables, not much happening up there.

The goals:
  • Comfy seating for 4
  • Overflow for 8 to 10 (occasionally more, but those will be few and far between)
  • Largest screen feasible
  • Dolby Atmos capable
  • Star ceiling (DIY from NightSky is the plan)
The rules:
First, gotta give props where due and admit I’m a damn lucky husband. WAF is not an issue. My wife is the type that when I was standing looking at a 50” plasma to replace our first 42” years ago, she nudged me and pointed to the 65” next to it with a big grin. When we were planning this first dedicated HT build, she was trying to figure out if we could afford raising the roof 3 or 4 feet to get around the low knee wall issue and let us have a bigger screen. Could a guy ask for anything more? Ok, back to the rules:
  • The window must stay. There are several reasons for this, so we both agree on that one.
  • Mostly superficial construction. We’ll probably be here for a few more years yet, but the plan will ultimately be moving, so I’m trying to make it easy to turn back into a bonus room to sell the house (less hassle than trying to find someone looking for a pre-built theater). The soffit will likely be the biggest exception to this rule, but even that can come out relatively easily. On that note. Soffit will be where the slopes meet the center ceiling. 5” or 6” down and 15” wide. Will house 3 or 4 can lights on each side plus 2 Atmos speakers on each side.
  • Trying to keep budget to around 15k, and since we’re going all new equipment, 9k or so of that will be lost there. I’ve actually got most everything priced out, should be able to stick pretty close to it. I know around here that’s a contradiction in terms, but I’m trying. After furniture, I’m estimating about 2k for paint, materials, and carpet. Though if I find used theater seats, I’ll likely recoup another grand or so.
The Equipment: (at least current plan)
  • Projector – JVC RS400u
  • Screen – EliteScreens Spectrum2 series 100” (this is the largest drop screen I can fit thanks to the barn shape, and need drop down because of the window)
  • AVR – Denon x6200w
  • BD Player – Oppo BD-103 (unless their 4k unit hits early, but most likely this)
  • Atmos Amps – Audiosource Amp100vs X2 (I could get away with 1, but figure I’ll do all 4 Atmos speakers amped off of the AVR)
  • L/R/C speakers – Ascend Acoustics CMT-340
  • Sub – Ascend LV12R
  • Surround and Atmos speakers – Micca in ceiling and in wall units (I know, but helps budget and I can upgrade later if desired. Plus I’ve never felt the need for super high end effects speakers)
  • Cables – TBD. I have about 250 feet of 14 gauge CL2 rated speaker cable and banana plugs but I’ll still need the HDMI interconnects and will run a cat6 to the projector. Cable run to projector will be 25’ if I’m lucky, but might have to stretch to 30.
  • Optional (hopeful) – Amp and Bass shakers x8 to cover the 4 main and 4 theater seats
  • Optional – 3D stuff (since the JVC is reputed to work well even with some of the cheaper stuff, might give it a try)
  • Front row seats – Fusion Jive 1013s in Brown from Roman. They’re about the only ones I can find narrow enough to give me 4 seats and still have room to walk around with the sloped ceiling. 4 seat curved with loveseat in the middle. (Little wider than 4 straight, but not enough to make a difference) The brown part may be the only WAF thing to factor in to this. She hates black leather furniture. But with the color theme, it should work. We’re going to try and coordinate the carpet to the seats.
  • Second row seats – Good quality theater seats. Hoping to find some used for a good deal, but barring that will go with ordering some new ones. Will be on 8” 6x9 riser with a bar back inspired by Snickers’ Merrimont Trace thread as suggested to me by Jeff.
The back wall opposite the equipment rack will house a popcorn machine and mini fridge concession area. Nothing too fancy.

I’m attaching some pics, sketches, and a couple renders that Silva741 did for me. As you can see, the window is pretty huge on the wall, which is part of the reason it’s staying too. We’re going with a black and dark, dark red theme. Screen wall will be covered in dark, dark red curtain; the window being the biggest reason, figure it’ll also help keep some sound reflection down. Knee wall and back wall will be the same shade of red, sloped and center ceiling sections will be black. I’m toying with covering the sloped parts in Royalty 3 velvet, still debating that piece.
 

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Discussion Starter #2 (Edited)
After all is said and done, we turned the hallway into our "entrance" since there was no room with the sloped ceilings for posters or the like. The clock was a gift from a friend of mine he built from an old film reel, and definitely our favorite knick knack.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
OK, the main questions I’m working on now. Hoping some of the many people far smarter than I am around HT construction will be able to chime in.

First up, center channel speaker location. Since the window stays, I can’t go AT and put it behind the screen . Sitting on the floor below would be fine for front row, but crap for anything else. That leaves above. But if you look at the sketch and window pic, not a ton of room up there, and I can only find one stud above the window. I’m thinking I’ll either have to suspend a shelf from the ceiling, or figure out a way to incorporate it into the soffit. Any ideas would be most appreciated.

Second, equipment rack location. On the back wall to be sure, but what I’m debating on is trying an in-wall style mount to the right of the door. There’s a large closet in my office on the other side of that wall, so I could probably make that work. I’d just need to figure out a way to get the cables back into the room to run (f/r/c/sub/surrounds will go low around baseboard, and current plan for Atmos is to mount them in the soffit, so those wires are easy enough to run. The other issue with in-wall rack is that’s back on the bigger construction side of things, and a bit tougher to take out. I’d really appreciate any input on 1) a good way to send the cables back to the baseboard with minimal teardown and 2) any input on overall level of effort to undo it if I put the rack in there. Barring that, I’m thinking of a small stereo style rack in the corner.

Third, the soffit itself. I believe thanks to Jeff (BigMouth in DC) and a couple others, I’ve got most of that worked out. Mostly trying to decide if I want to make some of the side sections fabric covered with some insulation in there or just make it a solid side wall. Also trying to decide how to trim the light tray.

Finally, the front of the room, which plays into both the center speaker and the soffit design. The screen housing will be on a bracket hanging about 2 inches above the top of the window. Below that (and closer to the wall) will need to be a curtain rod (preferably automated) so that I can close the curtains when the screen comes down. I’m trying to think of a front soffit that would have to hang a bit lower than the side soffits and act as a type of valance to cover the screen housing and curtain rod. In a perfect world, when I go to “theater mode”, the curtains close and screen drops from behind the valance. I can almost see it in my head, but never quite get it on paper.
 

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You should be able to fit a 120" screen in there and use Big's simplest screen so it doesn't have to lay against the window.


Guess it would kind of depend if you choose to do a stage or not. But trust that 120" would look a lot better. A lot of guys have always moved up from 100" to 120" in similar spaces. I'm excited to see your build, good luck and congrats.
 

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Do you have access above the room anyway. Most of the rooms on here that have the shape have access to be able to run wires front to back.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
At the height where the top of the screen needs to be, the width between sides is right at 105", so just barely enough for a 120. But I need a way to get it out of the way when not in use. I even thought of trying to come up with a hinge system to put up out of the way, but it looked pretty awful since it's wider than the flat portion of the ceiling. When you add the width for a drop down casing, even at 110 to get the right height I would have to cut into the ceiling to fit it. So for now we settled on the 100.

The above ceiling access is about a 10 inch gap. I plan on fishing romex for projector power and pitting in a conduit for cables, but that's about it.
 

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At the height where the top of the screen needs to be, the width between sides is right at 105", so just barely enough for a 120. But I need a way to get it out of the way when not in use. I even thought of trying to come up with a hinge system to put up out of the way, but it looked pretty awful since it's wider than the flat portion of the ceiling. When you add the width for a drop down casing, even at 110 to get the right height I would have to cut into the ceiling to fit it. So for now we settled on the 100.



The above ceiling access is about a 10 inch gap. I plan on fishing romex for projector power and pitting in a conduit for cables, but that's about it.


Ahh I see. Just not a lot of wiggle room anywhere. I'm sure BIG and others will post some ideas to help continue this quest. Looking forward to seeing finished product!
 

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It appears that you will be turning this space into a dedicated purpose theater space. I can't see the need to access the window unless your wife makes a lot of chili with beans. You don't have to remove the window, just build your theater in front of it. It will always be there. I would not rule out an acoustically transparent screen. You will want your center channel elevated to be able to clearly hear the dialog from all the rows of seating.

Lastly I hope you are considering the heat load of 8-10 adults and the projector. These spaces tend to get hot and without an oversized HVAC system it will become uncomfortable. I don't see any mention of this in your plans or a budget allowance.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
It appears that you will be turning this space into a dedicated purpose theater space. I can't see the need to access the window unless your wife makes a lot of chili with beans. You don't have to remove the window, just build your theater in front of it. It will always be there. I would not rule out an acoustically transparent screen. You will want your center channel elevated to be able to clearly hear the dialog from all the rows of seating.

Lastly I hope you are considering the heat load of 8-10 adults and the projector. These spaces tend to get hot and without an oversized HVAC system it will become uncomfortable. I don't see any mention of this in your plans or a budget allowance.
Thanks, Jeff. As to the window, the trick is it serves several functions where we still need access to it. Air being a very small one, yes, but more it's a major source of natural light for my office across the hall (I work from home, so this is somewhat important). Even with the furniture and dark walls, it would be providing some during the day. Plus, during the holidays, it is key to some decorations. I do a yard haunt during Halloween, and this particular window provides some ghost shadows and such, and at Christmas hosts a decorated tree. Finally, it's a front facing window, so covering over would just look kind of crappy from the street. So while it's a 90% dedicated theater, that other 10% is key.

And it's a finished room, so has 2 vents and a return. I'm actually considering increasing the upstairs unit by half a ton to compensate.


(and you should taste my chili recipe... might make that first part seem more important :D)
 

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Discussion Starter #10
So an opinion question. I mentioned I was thinking about trying to cover the two sloped ceiling sections with fabric (possibly the JoAnn Royalty 3 product), and while thinking of how best to staple so that they're not visible. In addition, I thought of adding a strap under each can light that would be red matched to the wall and curtains, maybe with a black stripe as well. Something like the attached. It seems to look ok on the render, but trying to picture it in a real world scenario. Anyone ever done anything like that who could provide a little input?
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Popcorn stripped from the ceiling and slopes, and ready to paint (hopefully next week). I'm still leaning towards the Jo Ann Royalty 3 velvet for the sloped sections as they'll be brushed up against, but I'll probably put at least a coat of primer up there just to smooth and seal it a bit.

FedEx also just dropped off the screen, and it seems my math was pretty much on. Held it up to where it will hang and it bumps right against the slopes on each side, so with a drop down screen I'm pretty much at the max size. I might have been able to go 110" with some manner of swinging hinge system to have it out of the way when needed, but since it wouldn't be flush with flat part of ceiling it just really looked strange. So for this theater, 100" it is. Plan on hanging it tonight to make sure it's ok and let it smooth out for a few days before I store it until ready to go. I'm on the road next week and don't want to wait too long to report any issues.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
On today's episode of Redneck Renovations: A well placed leaf blower and open window make drywall dust removal a breeze.

A bit more mud touch-ups to do, then the walls and ceiling will be ready for primer. And a question on that front. The primer I picked up for the ceiling and slope sections (even though I'm most likely going velvet on the slopes, I plan on priming just to seal it) and had them put as much tint as it could hold, which came out as a nice gray. I'll likely have enough left over for the knee-wall as well, but would the gray be bad for putting a coat of red paint over?
 

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I used that Home Depot Behr premium one coat paint and went from an off white semi gloss to flat dark red and it indeed covered it in one coat without any bleed through of color from underneath.. get the right paint and the primer coat won't matter at all. My first room I painted red took 6 coats and there are still a few spots that the white comes through, so I was skeptical of the claims that any red paint could cover in one coat. I am now a believer.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
I've been a fan of the Behr premium since we bought this house. Most of the rooms we painted when on with a solid cover in one coat (though we did two as a matter of course), but I wasn't sure if flat would make it that much more difficult.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
I've hit a design snag and could use some help from the masses. My goal is to cover the screen housing and curtain rod at the front of the room with either a soffit, or curtains to match the curtain wall as kind of a valance. I was originally leaning towards the latter, but as my center channel speaker is going to have to mount up above the window as well, I'm starting to look at the soffit idea. If it's done right, then the curtains would close and the screen would drop down from behind the soffit, nice effect plus clean and tidy.

The problem is that in order to do that, the soffit in front would need to be about 6 inches taller than the soffit around the sides. I don't think I've encountered any pictures of a multi-height soffit or the like, and am having great trouble picturing how that would look in my head. Has anyone ever done something similar? If not, does anyone have an idea on how to frame something like that? Not physically, but aesthetically, blend the side soffit in somehow, or just have the front soffit hanging 6 inches lower?
 

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I've been a fan of the Behr premium since we bought this house. Most of the rooms we painted when on with a solid cover in one coat (though we did two as a matter of course), but I wasn't sure if flat would make it that much more difficult.
I went flat over semi-gloss with no primer and even where I had to touch up a single spot here and there, the flat is consistent and once fully cured you can't see any variance from the single coat to the areas with a second coat. I have had other flat paints be inconsistent when I didn't prime really well and do two or three good coats...
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Ceiling and walls primed, and the mouse ears has gone up on the ceiling. Picture was taken between coats. We're still finalizing the curtain material for the front wall, and the vertical walls will be color matched to that (a crimson color). So for now they get to stay primer gray.

Even with the first coat barely dry, I was impressed with the blackness and lack of reflectivity.
 

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Discussion Starter #18
So thanks to 3 consecutive weeks of flights to the left coast (me = tired), hoping to get things moving again this weekend, but got a general opinion question for the masses.

I'm hoping to get the framing materials for the soffit this week and if all goes well, possibly get started on getting it up. My question is around the material. The general consensus among the threads I've seen seems to be that most people don't did 2x2s as they're tough to get straight and the like. What I'm debating on is 2x4 vs 2x3. The 2x3s seem solid enough at first blush, and from the ones I sampled, look straight and clean cut. Is there any negative to using them vs. 2x4? They won't have much weight beyond the materials, maybe 3 or 4 can lights and 2 atmos spearkers on each side, and I'll put some stuffing in to help avoid making a big resonance chamber, but don't plan on using anything heavy there.
 

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Discussion Starter #19
Side walls painted and I built the main frame for the soffit today. Not mounted yet as I need to get a sander to smooth some spots and level the spars out.
 

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Discussion Starter #20
Tackled the beginning of the only "construction" part of the minimal construction project. And I learned that what I thought were nice true 2x3s were just me not knowing enough about them. Lesson #2 learned, a home table saw without a long table to rest an 8' 2x3 on is incredibly difficult to cut 5" spars with. There are about 4 or 5 in total that are more crooked than I anticipated, gonna have to figure out how to work on those.

On a different note, with the paint up, I'm starting to get a solid picture of the finished project and see that @Silva741 did an excellent job on the render.

Apologies for the lousy focus. Arms are a bit wobbly after getting the framing hung.
 

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